Electronic prescribing ‘goes live’

07 June 2005

Chelsea and Westminster is one of the first hospitals in the UK to ‘go live’ with electronic prescribing in all outpatient clinics.

Chelsea and Westminster is one of the first hospitals in the UK to ‘go live’ with electronic prescribing in all outpatient clinics.

This latest innovation at one of the country’s leading hospitals for information technology is helping to speed up dispensing and improve safer use of medication.

More than 150,000 items are dispensed by the outpatient pharmacy every year. In the past all prescriptions would be hand written.

The new system means that once a doctor has prescribed a medication it is automatically added to the patient’s electronic record.

As the printed prescriptions have a bar code pharmacists can scan it and pull up the patient’s medication record. This means that they can make any double checks they need to before the medication is dispensed.

Details of the medication, who prescribed it and when are automatically updated to the patient’s electronic record. Details of which pharmacist clinically screened the prescription are also stored.

Patients are given a printed copy rather than a faded carbon copy with their dispensed medication. This copy is much easier to read and can be used to obtain a repeat prescription from their GP.

Acting Chief Pharmacist Karen Robertson said: “The system alerts the prescriber if they are about to prescribe a medicine that a patient may be allergic to. It also checks medicines the patient has had in the past and warns the prescriber if they might adversely interact with new medicines.

"All information required for safe dispensing is automatically included on the prescription such as dose, frequency and quantity. Less time is spent calling doctors to clarify this information leading to faster dispensing of medicines."

This new development brings the Trust a step closer to having electronic prescribing across all areas within the hospital. Currently take home medication can be ordered electronically and the Trust is hoping to roll out a programme so that inpatient medication also can be prescribed electronically.

Consultant in HIV/GU medicine Dr David Asboe said: “This is a critically important step forward in the development of electronic patient records. These will greatly improve access to clinical information about patients.”

Dr Richard Morgan said: “This is a really important step forward for patient safety. Patients appreciate what we are doing by keeping a record of all the medication we have prescribed for them in an electronic format. It puts us at the forefront of this new technology. We are ahead of the game!”

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